High School Programs

2017 Summer Fellowship Program in Biomedical Research

June 26 – August 18, 2017


In keeping with its goal to promote science education and encourage young people to consider careers in science, The Wistar Institute is again offering an eight-week summer program for high school students. This program gives preference to students enrolled in the Philadelphia School District.   The Institute does not offer housing, and students who cannot commute daily to the Institute are not eligible.   

Started in 1994, Wistar’s Summer Fellowship Program offers students the opportunity to become directly involved in experimental biological research projects at the bench level.  During the course of the summer, students learn various research techniques and work on active research projects in areas such as cancer genetics, control of tumor progression, vaccine development or bioinformatics.

Program Description

Wistar’s Summer Fellowship Program in Biomedical Research provides an opportunity for students to enhance their understanding of current biological/biomedical theory and research tools and techniques at a nationally recognized nonprofit research institution.  Wistar scientists and their laboratory teams serve as program mentors guiding students through the planning and practice of daily research experiments and activities.  Students learn research skills together, taught by a team of mentors, and individually as each student trains in a principal investigator’s laboratory for the duration of the program; under the direction of the laboratory head, the student is assigned a unique research project related to the research goals of that particular laboratory.  Students are integrated into the daily work of the laboratory, participating in laboratory meetings and gaining exposure to different facets of the laboratory's research.  Mentors help students apply their current knowledge and skills and assist them in making the connection between laboratory experience and their academic studies.  The program includes a weekly lunchtime seminar series presented by Institute scientists and an introduction to research library skills development.

At the end of the summer, students are required to give an oral presentation, with slides (prepared in PowerPoint), as well as prepare a final written report describing their research project, techniques and processes learned, and how the experience was useful to the student both academically and personally.  The students meet periodically with their mentors to prepare and review the content of the oral presentations and written reports.

2017 Program Schedule and Stipend

The 2017 program is scheduled for June 26 – August 18, 2017; students are expected to devote 35 hours a week to the program.  Although the schedule is flexible, students are required to complete the eight-week program and to participate in all program activities.  Students will receive a single stipend not to exceed $1,250 for the full eight weeks to defray commuting or other expenses they are expected to incur

Eligibility Requirements

Students must be at least sixteen years of age and enrolled in a science course. To ensure that the program is maximally beneficial both to participants and The Wistar Institute, we are seeking highly motivated students who are enrolled in an academic curriculum and demonstrate interest in science-related fields of study. The students must be able to participate and be present every week of the 8-week program, which includes 5 days of mandatory training in the training lab - no exceptions.  Previous fellowship recipients and students who cannot complete the eight-week program are not eligible. 


In the course of their research, scientists at The Wistar Institute routinely use equipment and biological and chemical substances that may pose certain risks to human health and safety.  The Institute has designed the summer research program for high school students to comply with applicable federal and state regulations for the use of such equipment and substances by minors.  However, because it is impossible to eliminate all of the risks inherent in biomedical research, parents of participating students will be required to sign a permission form which outlines the Institute's research activities and provides consent for their children's participation in these activities.

To Apply

Interested students should submit a one-page letter describing their research interest and career goals.  The letter should also include a phone number/email address where the student can be contacted.  A letter of recommendation from a science teacher and a transcript should also be submitted.  The deadline for submission is March 31, 2017.  This material should be sent to: 

Dr. William Wunner, Director, High School Training Program
The Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA  19104

The selection process will include an interview of qualified candidates.


Questions regarding this program can be directed to:

Maria Colelli, Coordinator of The Wistar Institute High School Programs, at (215) 898-3774 or colelli@wistar.org.

About The Wistar Institute

The Wistar Institute is an independent nonprofit research institution dedicated to discovering the causes and cures for major diseases, including cancer, AIDS, and autoimmune diseases.  The Institute is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center focused on basic and translational research—one of the nation’s first to earn this prestigious designation.  Founded in 1892, Wistar was the first independent institution devoted to medical research and training in the nation.  Since the Institute's inception, Wistar scientists have helped to improve world health through the development of vaccines against rabies, rubella, and rotavirus; the identification of genes associated with breast, lung, prostate and other cancers; and the development of monoclonal antibodies and other significant research technologies and tools.  Located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, the Institute maintains its status as an independent research institution while enjoying a close relationship with the University as well as the nearby University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


The Wistar Institute gratefully acknowledges generous support for these high school programs from GlaxoSmithKline and the Gray Charitable Trust.